In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

496 LEITERS IN CANADA 1982 my sensitivities, my craftsmanship.' He has done that, and these two books bring the man, his age, and his art to us. (ESTHER SAFER FISHER) Lorraine McMullen, editor. The Ethel Wilsoll Symposium University of Ottawa Press. 152 For those unable to attend a symposium, its published proceedings constitute its only reality, and ideally the value of such a publication should be enhanced as the event itself recedes. Individuals who participate , either as speakers or as spectators might well find - as I did almost a decade ago with the first of these annual gatherings, the Grove Symposium - that the printed version does not always capture the spirit of the occasion, or that it ignores or renders somewhat prosaic some of its spontaneous and informal revelations. I was not present at the Ethel Wilson Symposium held in April 1981, so cannot vouch for any such moments on that occasion, but its formal components as published in the Symposium, from Lorraine McMullen's Introduction to William New's summation, all suggest that the benign and whimsical spirit of Ethel Wilson was never far away. It is therefore not surprising to discover that these dozen or so papers strike a balance between biographical revelation and scholarly interpretation, with some fanciful speculation thrown in from time to time: Wilson scholarship is still at that fruitful stage where it is not always possible to proclaim a clear separation between one approach and another. Ethel Wilson was very much a private person, and it is therefore fitting that some of these papers fill in the biographical blanks of her long life and career. On the whole, the four panellists who take this approach avoid extensive biographical-fictional speculation though, not surprisingly , The Innocent Traveller frequently tempts them to do so. Barbara Wild, for example, not only refers to members of the real-life Edge and Bryant families by their fictional names, but uses on one occasion the novel to verify the Edge genealogy, and on another the census records to prove a point about tlte novel, approaches which confuse both tlte biography and the fiction. The information about Mrs Wilson provided by Mary McAlpine and Muriel Whitaker, both of whom were long acquainted with her, reflects a convincing authority, but the former's revelation about Wilson's 20 January 1888 birthdate is of course not new, since Pacey recorded it in his 1967 Twayne study. But since the 1890 date has continued to be cited in many places (including both the original and revised editions of The Literary History of Canada), her re-confirmation was probably necessary. Whitaker provides convincing and intriguing details about the Wilsons' annual excursion to Lac Le Jeune, citing possible sources for some of the characterizations and episodes of Swamp Angel. A bit startling, perhaps , is her revelation that on these happy occasions Mrs Wilson came through as a confident extrovert, though for all that none of her fictional females is really beset by modesty: it is the illusive quality of her art that deceives us on occasion into thinking that they are. Linking these biographical and the concluding interpretive papers, David Stouck's analysis of the Ethel Wilson papers at UBe, together with his Annotated Index, constitutes a most useful item for the Wilson scholar. He lays to rest the myth that Wilson emerged suddenly and fully grown as a writer at the age of sixty, for the papers reveal that she began The Innocent Traveller as early as 1930, and that she in fact underwent a fairly lengthy apprenticeship. Relevant to some of the succeeding papers are the comments she made about the writers who have influenced her and whom she particularly liked: of the fourteen cited as her favourites, no fewer than ten are male, and only one twentieth-century North American female, Willa Cather, receives any mention at all. In the light of such revelations, we perhaps have to qualify our judgments of the fine papers by Alexandra Collins and Blanche Geifant, who link Wilson to a number of North American writers. Collins sees a 'kinship ' between Wilson and such novelists as Wharton, Glasgow, Cather, and Ostenso, even though she concedes Wilson may never...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 496-498
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.